Students across campus are in an uproar due to the constant fluctuation of the recreation center’s hours.
The rec center is open Monday through Friday from 6:30-8:30 a.m., closed from 8:30-11:30 a.m., open from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., closed from 1:30-5 p.m., and open from 5-9 p.m.
According to Robert Carroll, Director of Campus Recreation, the reason for the inconsistency in recreation center hours stems from the lack of funding for employees and the costs for maintaining the 50 acres of land surrounding the center.
“Many people don’t realize the money that goes behind running a 75,000 square-foot facility,” said Carroll. “It’s a shame FAMU built a world class facility in which students have only limited access to. The money is there and students have the right to ask for it.”
Thousands of dollars go into lawn care, irrigation, gas for service vehicles, wages for laborers, and lights for the basketball court.
Many students are unaware they’re part of the reason why the recreation center is in operation. From each credit hour, an “A&S Service Fee” of $11 is added to tuition and placed into a consolidated account in which funds are redistributed to various campus organizations.
Each year, the staff at the recreation center submits a budget to the Student Government Association with details on how much money it will take to operate the facility, and SGA allocates funds as they see fit.
Since last semester, the recreation center staff has been cut in half and the budget has decreased by $175,000. This slash in funding allows the center limited mobility and creativity, housing only four permanent staff members and 30 part-time employees.
With over 147,000 people utilizing the facility each year, the center has been facing a constant challenge to adhere to the industry standard, which requires there to be at least one employee working for every 30 people exercising. Each day, employees continuously turn away eager students ready to burn a few calories.
“They come into the gym with their towel in hand, ready to work out, only to find out that we will be reopening in a few hours,” said Jasmine Simmons, a junior psychology student employed at the FAMU Rec Center. “This happens countless times everyday. The awkward scheduling also conflicts with my class schedule. I have to leave and come back to work- two, sometimes even three times a day.”
In order to keep the recreation center running smoothly, it’s essential to have an adequate amount of staffing to not only provide for the influx of students’ requests, but also to decrease the risk possibilities and provide students with customer service in a timely and efficient manner. Many students consider their leisure time to be one of the most important aspects of their collegiate experience. Without a healthy avenue for activities outside of the classroom, there are countless unhealthy activities students may discover while idly searching for alternative means of entertainment.
With the recreation center being one of the most active buildings on campus, one can only imagine the constant frustration students have when they journey from their dormitories through a downpour of rain, only to realize they’ll have to head back home.
“I really dislike the new hours,” said Stephanie Francois, a third-year education student from Orlando. “The hours are wrapped around times that most students are in class. It’s hard trying to find a balance for recreation and school, and my schedule is so hectic I often have to exercise at home.”
According to Carroll, funding for the recreation center is predicted to run out on Nov. 1 if SGA doesn’t allocate more funds. If this happens, it’s likely the center won’t reopen until February 2013, when fees are recollected from students and the budget for the spring is released.
Many students ask, “What can we do to change this?” The answer is simple. Log onto Twitter and use the #RattlerRec hashtag and tell SGA how the change in operating hours affects you. They are obligated to serve you. Let your voice be heard!